This post may seem to be focused addressing professional writers. But if you're tasked with writing content for your business's website, blog, newsletter or press releases, then you're writing content for professional use. And if you're tasked with doing enough of it, enough of the time, you'll start to feel the pressure sooner or later, no matter how many years of experience you have. What do you do when the blank screen suggests absolutely nothing to you? How do you get literary blood out that overworked turnip between your ears? It's a question we all have to contend with. Here are four suggestions that I've found helpful:
1. Stop thinking. Zoning out is more productive than you might realize. It may take the form of mild daydreaming about your writing project, or it could be more of a Zen-like state in which you simply think of nothing at all. These practices are highly beneficial to a locked-up, stressed-out creative mind. They not only gives the gray matter a rest, but they also silence the merciless self-critic behind so many cases of writer's block. There's a reason Ray Bradbury kept a sign above his typewriter that read, "DON'T THINK."
2. Go for a walk. Many of the great creative minds in history could just as well be dubbed "creative feet," favoring lengthy walks as they chewed over the morning's work or the evening session to come. It makes a kind of sense if you think about it. Light exercise stimulates cardiovascular performance, pushing oxygenated blood through your brain and improving your mental efficiency. Walking can strike you as either highly inspiring or about as interesting as watching paint dry -- and believe it or not, either of these reactions can give your creativity a boost. You might become charged with ideas from observing the local flora and fauna, or you might find your surroundings so deadly dull that you have nothing to thing about EXCEPT your writing. Walking can also relieve muscular tension, another potential distraction.
3. Sleep. "Sleeping on it" is more than just an expression -- it's also a legitimate way to solve nagging questions and issues on any kind of project that requires creative problem solving. Many times my head has hit the pillow in a state of utter confusion, only to wake up with a sense of absolute clarity, the answer to my problem suddenly resembling child's play. Whether your subconscious mind pulled an all-nighter while your slept or your conscious mind just was just too pooped to see the obvious, plenty of sleep can solve plenty of writing worries.
4. Write anyway. If that writing project is due tomorrow and your brilliance engine just won't engage for love or money, sometimes all you can do is grit your teeth and write the stupid thing. If you have the technique, you'll still manage to turn out respectable, professional-level work. If you're still learning your craft, the result might be rough around the edges -- but hey, that's what revisions are for. Feel your client out on this issue -- some regard the deadline as holy writ, while others will want you to take that extra day if it'll make a significant difference in the quality of the draft.
One final suggestion: Sometimes the best thing you can do for a creative project is add a second point of view. If you feel that it's time to get another writer on board, you know who to call! I'll be sure to come running -- unless I'm busy daydreaming, walking, sleeping or writing.